Grace Potter & the Nocturnals / Grace Potter

This Is Somewhere

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Grace Potter & the Nocturnals have long been impressing crowds on the jam band, roots rock, and even jazz tour circuits, and now, with a label deal for the very first time in their lives, they finally have the opportunity to reach an even broader audience. Of course, Potter already has a pretty devout following, thanks to her richly expressive voice and the musical talents that she and her bandmembers possess, and these fans shouldn't be disappointed with This Is Somewhere, an album that, while it roots itself firmly in the Southern rock tradition, also flirts with Norah Jones-esque jazz ("Lose Some Time"), horn-driven grooves ("Mastermind"), and even pretty straightforward MOR pop ("Mr. Columbus," which, with its simple melodies and lyrics, is one of the weaker tracks on the record), in doing so creating a solid collection. Not every track here is superb -- the aforementioned "Mr. Columbus," for example, as well as "Mastermind," which is too unsyncopated and forced to pull off the frenzy of saxophones that appears -- but Potter is showing herself to be a very adept songwriter, able to convey witty irony (in "Ah Mary," an almost angry criticism of the U.S.) as well as reflections on death (coming from the perspective of an 84-year-old woman in "Big White Gate") and gentle love ("Stop the Bus") equally skillfully and avoiding many of the lyrical clich├ęs often tied to themes of that sort. Yes, This Is Somewhere is a bit top-heavy, with most of stronger cuts tucked safely into its first half, and sometimes Potter seems to be trying a little too hard (in "Falling or Flying," for example), her Southern accent just a little too affected, but the album is still impressive, with a lot of passion, energy, and soul from a very able group of young musicians.

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